Working smoke alarm prevents fire from spreading - and saves lizard's life!

Mon 12 Jan, 2015

A working smoke alarm alerted neighbours and police to a fire in High Wycombe last night – and saved a lizard’s life.

The fire started in the first-floor bedroom of a house in Hithercroft Road. Two crews from High Wycombe were called at 9.15pm after a resident rang Thames Valley Police to report an alarm going off. When police officers went to investigate, they could smell smoke through the letterbox.

Firefighters used a ladder to gain access through a first-floor window, and discovered a fire caused by a wiring fault at the back of a vivarium that housed a lizard, believed to be a leopard gecko.

Watch Commander Stuart Grosse, from High Wycombe Fire Station, said: “The burning wiring dripped on to the carpet, which caught the carpet alight.

“The carpet burned slowly around the back and side of the wooden cabinet that held the vivarium.

“The area of burning carpet had been confined by the cabinet and walls, but the fire had just started to expand into the main part of the bedroom, so I believe it would only have got worse.

“It was definitely the smoke alarm which saved the day - and the gecko also survived.”

Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus put out the fire with a hose reel.

Stuart added: “No-one was in the house, and we understand the owner hadn’t been at home since about 1pm.

“Although the fire had been burning for quite a while, amazingly there was very little damage in the bedroom.

“There was a scorch mark on the wall, some burn marks to the wooden cabinet that the vivarium was on, a small but expanding area of burnt carpet and light smoke-logging throughout the first floor of the house.”

Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service offers free safety checks to identify potential fire risks in your home and help you minimise them. The checks include free smoke alarms and free installation. Ring 01296 744477 or email